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Overview for Sheldon Leonard
Sheldon Leonard

Sheldon Leonard



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Also Known As: Sheldon Leonard Bershad Died: January 10, 1997
Born: February 22, 1907 Cause of Death: natural causes
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: Cast ... producer actor director


This stage and film character player who specialized in Brooklynesque hoods and heavies, both serious and comic, in the 1940s and 50s (including "Harry the Horse" in the 1955 film of "Guys and Dolls") turned innovative, and highly successful TV producer in the mid-50s. Sheldon Leonard began his film career in the 1927 "The Overland Stage," but returned to the real stage until 1939. He then appeared in "Another Thin Man," continuing to act in more than 70 films through the 1970s. Among his better-known were "Weekend in Havana" (1941), "Lucky Jordan" (1942), Howard Hawks' "To Have and Have Not" (1944), Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), as the bartender who throws James Stewart out of his tavern, and "A Pocketful of Miracles" (1961).

Credited with introducing motion picture techniques to filming TV sitcoms and creating the spin-off after Andy Griffith made a guest appearance on "The Danny Thomas Show" (ABC and CBS, 1953-64), Leonard also produced "The Andy Griffith Show" (CBS, 1960-68) which led to "Gomer Pyle, USMC" (CBS, 1964-69). Among the other immensely popular, top-rated 1950s and 60s series he launched were "The Real McCoys" (ABC and CBS, 1957-63) and "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (CBS, 1961-66); the stars of those series made their TV debuts on programs directed and/or produced by Leonard. Leonard also produced the innovative action-adventure series "I Spy" (NBC, 1965-68), noted not only for featuring a black lead (Bill Cosby) in an interracial team during primetime, but also for its emphasis on location photography and production values.

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